Monday, September 16, 2013

a lost article

Recently I posted here a bit of praise for Robert Sokolowski's Introduction to Phenomenology, which I'd been re-reading for the first time in a few years.  It was a good little piece, but unfortunately I deleted it.  I deleted it because, for a few hours, I was feeling ambivalent toward phenomenology and thought "to hell with it."  But then I got back to the book and wished I hadn't deleted it.

The core of this reflection was that I took this book to be the definitive statement on phenomenology.  Regardless of Husserl and his followers, and regardless of the other works Sokolowski has written, I find the Introduction to be a magnum opus, and the only "version" of phenomenology that I find acceptable.  I also made a point concerning the pun on the terms "introduction" and "phenomenology."  I said that phenomenology is a state of mind:  the so-called phenomenological attitude is phenomenology per se.  And every time one engages the phenomenological "reduction," one engages in an introduction to -- a "leading-in" to -- phenomenology.  This is fitting, I think, because phenomenology is largely -- as Merleau-Ponty put it -- re-learning to look at the world.  The philosophical epoché always consists in starting from scratch, a return to the things themselves, a statement with Socrates that "all I know is that I do not know."  I spoke of the Introduction in this way because I thought such a title might be misleading to an outsider, who might consider this book the first in a long line of books on phenomenology.  But it is a unique gem, which stands alone -- like Chesterton's Orthodoxy or Pieper's Leisure -- as something to be read again and again.  Just as St. Thomas called the Summa Theologiae "for beginners", even though it is considered the treatise on theology, so do I consider Sokolowski's book a Summa Phenomenologiae -- it is, for me, the statement and treatise on phenomenology.  It's holism, applicability to life and to thought, is unparalleled (so far as my own researches have led me to conclude).

Perhaps someday I will be able to restate entire this reflection which I have stupidly deleted...

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